mardi 15 février 2011

It happened recently

It happened recently!

The 26 th of January 2011, in Paris, during an evening party organized the The Dow Chemical Company, official partner of the International Year of Chemistry (officially launched in UNESCO the next day), the team of the catering company Potel & Chabot, under the direction of Jean-Pierre Biffi, with the participation of his sous-chef Francisco Bouza, served to more than 100 guests an exceptional menu: a "Note by Note Cooking" menu. During the dinner, Pr Hervé This, physical chemist IINRA/AgroParisTech, described the menu and emphasized its importance for the history of cooking.

"Note by Note Cooking" is a new way of cooking, that will be next after Molecular Cooking. It was proposed by H. This in a Scientific American issue n in 1994.
Up to now, it was achieved only by the French chef Pierre Gagnaire, the 24 th of April 2008 in Hong-Kong, for one dish, by the Alsatian chefs Hubert Maetz and Nadine Kuentz, in Strasbourg, for two dishes shown during the French-German-Japanese Meeting of JSPS Alumini, by professors of the Cordon bleu School of Paris during a private evening for students of the Institute of Advanced Studies in Gastronomy (HEG).

The menu that was served by Jean-Pierre Biffi and his team was:

Tapioca d’huîtres,
Bavarois mousse d’amylopectine, tapioca citron vert
Gelée d’eau de mer, crème d’huîtres et cristal de vent
Soufflé de homard,
Sauce Wöhler et gelée d’agar à la framboise
« Fibré » de bœuf et carottes,
Cappellini, tonnelets de carottes,
Joue de bœuf à jus brun
Eruption à la poudre de cassis,
Boule cassis
Pain à la graine de courge
Miche Potel

Service du café
« Nespresso » et « Mariage Frères »

These dishes were not done using directly meat, fish, vegetables and fruits, but instead compounds or simple mixtures of compounds, from which the chefs made all aspects of the various dishes: shape, consistency, color, odor taste, trigeminal sensations...
One detail: please remember that "chemicals", or "chemical compounds" do not exist. There are compounds, that can be synthetized or extracted: such are water, sucrose, ethanol, etc. In many circumstances, it is probably a better choice to extract compounds from plant or animal tissues, as one does not forget that the synthesis of vitamin B12 needed hundreds of skilled chemists working for years.
Sometimes, compounds can be prepared using processes such as lyophilization, reverse osmosis, drying, etc.

Some useful definitions : Molecular Gastronomy is the branch of physical chemistry that looks for mechanisms of phenomena occurring during culinary transformations. This "Note by Note" menu had nothing to do with it!

Chemistry is a science that looks for the mecheanisms occurring during atoms rearrangements, what is called somewhat mistakenly "chemical processes". Please note that there will never be any chemistry in the kitchen ! Only perhaps some compounds obtained by synthesis will be used... if the chefs -and only them- decide to use these compounds.

Molecular Cooking (or Cookery) is a culinary trend whose initial idea was to rationalize the culinary activity. Indeed the definition (given in the Encyclopedia Britannica) ne forme de cuisine, une tendance, qui consiste à utiliser de "nouveaux" outils, ingrédients, méthodes. of Molecular Cooking is "cooking using new tools, new ingredients and new methods". We have to add that "new" means here "what was not present in Paul Bocuse kitchen in the 70's. For example, ultrasonic probes can make emulsions (think of the mayonnaise sauce) in some seconds; agar-agar produces gels of consistency different from gelatine gels; "chocolate chantilly" is a chocolate mousse without using eggs (and if egg whites are not useful, it is a waste to use them!).
This new trend will disappear, not because we have enough of it, but because when the rationalization of culinary activities will be done, it will be time to move to new art territories.
And this is why it is probably important to consider...

Note by Note Cooking, as it is a way of cooking using compounds to build dishes: as musicians of today can use synthetizers instead of piano and violin, cooks can build any aspect of dishes.

And the 26 th of January 2011, the dinner was really good!

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